Solo: Beautiful Project Management for Freelancers

Solo is a project management app with a difference: It’s beautiful. Designed and built by U.K.-based company Thrive with solo creative freelancers in mind (hence the name), Solo’s clean, attractive design means it’s much nicer to look at than most clunky project management apps. And it’s not just a pretty face, either. Under the hood, it has all the PM features a freelancer would need, such as planning, contacts management, timesheets and invoicing tools.

Solo’s main screen is its dashboard, shown in the image above. It’s dominated by a message display that offers things like tips and updates about upcoming deadlines, with infographic-like charts below that provide at-a-glance details of project status, as well as turnover and hours recorded over time. You can also start and stop the task timer from this screen. Accessing the other areas of the app, such as the planner, timesheets and invoices, is done through the tabs at the top of the screen.

Designers and other creatives who take aesthetics seriously will appreciate Solo’s beautiful interface. That’s something I rarely get to say about project management apps, which are usually functional rather than pretty. Microproject, a scheduling app I reviewed recently, also has an attractive and well-designed interface, but it really can’t come close to Solo’s data-first design and attention to detail.

Solo’s a lovely product to look at, is quite easy to use and has a good set of features for freelancers, but there are a few potential issues with it. First, there doesn’t seem to be any way to export data, nor is there integration with any existing accounting, CRM or invoicing apps, which is disappointing. There isn’t even seem a way to import contacts from CRM or email apps that I can see. Second, it’s unclear how the product will scale if a freelance business expands to take on additional staff. Thrive’s Jerome Iveson says that the company is working on a multi-user PM app called Studio; hopefully it will be possible to migrate accounts and data between the two products. Finally, once you move beyond the dashboard into other areas of the app, some areas aren’t quite as polished and aren’t all that intuitive in use. It’s not clear how recorded hours are moved from timesheet to invoice, for example. Hopefully, those areas will be cleaned up over time; the app is still in development with several new features due to be added, such as a client area, blog feeds and messages.

Solo costs $10 per month, with a 14-day free trial available.